Crowhurst is a typical Sussex village four miles from Hastings. St George’s Church stands in the centre of the village, the only ancient part being the fourteenth-century tower. Nearby are the ruins of a thirteenth–century manor built by Walter de Scotney. In all there were 53 baptisms in the church, 15 marriages and 16 burials. There is only one headstone in the churchyard, an iron cross commemorating James Dengate (1833-1910).
The grave of James Dengate, St George’s Church, Crowhurst. It reads:
In Loving Memory
Died 29th November 1910 Aged 78 years.
Surely I come quickly
Although small (population 2,583 in 2001) and once isolated, the village does have a railway station. It was built in 1902 as a junction station for a branch line to Bexhill. The line crossed the nearby marshes on a 17-arch viaduct; the line was closed in 1964 and the viaduct was sadly demolished in 1969.
The first Dengates to settle in the village were Thomas and Ann Dengate. Thomas was baptised 1724 in Church-in-the-Wood, Hollington, East Sussex. Thomas and Ann married in St George’s Church, Crowhurst 20th April 1747 and settled in the village, where the family flourished for more than one hundred and fifty years.
Most of the men in the family worked as agricultural labourers in the fields surrounding the village. Thomas and Ann had eight children: Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth, Thomas, Ann, Jane, John and James Dengate. Their fourth child, Thomas Dengate is the most likely candidate to be the top of the Rye Tree, although further research is needed to prove this. I
It is via Thomas and Ann’s son James Dengate that the Crowhurst line flourished. He married Sarah Reeves in St Peter’s Church, Bexhill and the couple had seven children, all born in Crowhurst. The first three children were baptised in St George’s Church, Crowhurst while the latter four were registered in the Presbyterian Chapel in Battle.
Sarah Dengate (1794-1871 daughter of James and Sarah) went on to marry John Archer, who became shoe repairer and boot maker in Sedlescombe village, a role his son Thomas Archer continued after John’s death. Sarah’s sister Delia Dengate married William Spray, the Crowhurst blacksmith. The couple also ran the local pub, The Plough Inn.
Another of James and Sarah’s descendants, James Dengate resided in Rectory Cottages (now a Christian healing centre) with his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth and their twelve children. Several of their children, as is common to all branches of the Dengate family during the nineteenth and twentieth century, were more able and more willing to move away from the places their ancestors had resided and the occupations they had held for many years. This branch of the tree saw family members move around Sussex and Kent.
James and Charlotte Elizabeth’s eldest son William Dengate (1861-1941) moved with his family to Broadstairs, Kent, whilst their son Henry Ernest Dengate (1878-1958) and his family moved to Brampton in Derbyshire. Their youngest child, Charles Arthur Dengate (1882-1978) moved to Etchingham, where his descendants still live. Other family members moved to Hastings, Ewhurst, Sedlescombe and Westfield.
It is not believed that any members of the Dengate family continue to reside in Crowhurst.